An editor’s note warns “Technology, the laws, and limitations imposed by manufacturers and content owners are constantly changing, Thus, some of the projects described may not work, may be inconsistent with current laws or user agreements or may damage or adversely affect some equipment. Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience.”
How scary. And how refreshing. Make, a new quarterly put out by O’Reilly Media, a publisher of computer and technology books in Sebastopol, California, is a throwback to an earlier time, before personal computers, to the prehistory of geekiness – the age of how-to manuals for clever boys, from the 1920s to the ’50s.
The technology has changed, but not the creative impulse. Make’s first issue, out in February, explained how to take aerial photographs with a kite, a disposable camera and a rig of Popsicle sticks, rubber bands and Silly Putty. It also showed how to build a video-camera stabiliser – a Steadicam, basically – with $14 worth of steel pipes, bolts and washers; how to boost a laptop computer’s Wi-Fi signal with foil from an Indian take-out restaurant; and how to read credit card magnetic stripes with a device made with mail-order parts and a glue gun.
True, the fiddles in Make are harder than your basic stencilled pillowcase. The third issue, due out in August, will include projects for tricking out your house for Halloween. That leaves three months to study the instructions and to assemble who knows what will be required: presumably wires, switches, cables, adaptors, speakers, goggles, hard drives, Legos, plywood, dry ice, acrylics, glue and spent nuclear fuel rods.
You’ll proceed strictly at your own risk, but if the first two issues of Make are any guide, the trip will be a blast.
(cross posted from IHT, read the editorial here).