Minty Boost

I have two problems1:

1) My iPhone doesn't hold its charge very long
2) I travel for work, and my iphone doesn't stay charged for the entire flight if I use it to listen to music.

I'll grant these aren't unique problems, and there's a whole host of solutions out there. I finally settled on the mintyboost, using the Makerbot Energy Pod case.

The mintyboost is a really nice project from Adafruit. It's not too hard, but does require a bit of soldering skill, and it's a really satisfying build.

Here's my fully soldered up mintyboost:

The soldered minty boost

Likewise, the energy pod is a pretty forgiving print. I botched several parts of it and was still able to assemble it with a minimal amount of filing down rough edges. This would be even easier if you use a filament that can be smoothed with acetone--I did not, so I was left with filing. Here's the assembled pod with the mintyboost inside:

The minty boost energy pod

You don't need to make the pod if you don't want; the mintyboost is named because it's designed to fit in a mint tin. The tin that it was designed for2 is no longer made, but the kit comes with a similar tin, so you can just use that. I just used the energy pod because I thought it looked cool.

I haven't yet been able to take it on a trip; I'll write another post about how well it works in practice.

  1. For purposes of this post.

  2. An altoids mint gum tin.

Making a Non Compliant Sticker

I am a huge fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick. Sort of embarrassingly so. She and Warren Ellis are my two "subscribe to everything" comic authors.

One of her upcoming projects is "Bitch Planet". She has a design blog for it that recently posted this awesome piece of art:

Awesome, right?

Absent any context for it beyond the notion of "non compliant" I saved the image, thinking I wanted it as a sticker or something.

And then Splatspace got a vinyl cutter. Using Inkcut, a plugin for Inkscape, another member at Splatspace helped me create the sticker and cut it out of white vinyl. It was a pretty good sample project, because the design is super simple and blocky.

The cutter, a Roland Vinyl Cutter, actually functions as a printer; you process an image in Inkscape to reduce it to just the lines you want, and then use Inkcut to send it as a print file to the cutter. It's a really simple process.

And here it is on my computer, my newest sticker (alongside Juju, Octocat, and Sherlock & Watson):

Non Compliant

3D printing a lens cap

The general reaction to 3D printing that I see at Splatspace is "oh, neat" followed quickly by some variation of asking what it's actually good for besides generating more plastic trinkets.

There are good answers, from creating cheap and effective prosthetics to printing parts for new printers.

But those examples are usually too far from the experience or interests of those asking to be a satisfying answer. Here's a simpler, more personal use.

When my grandfather died among the bits of his belongings that I inherited was a gorgeous set of binoculars. They're not particularly fancy, but like many older things they're well made. The only exception being the cheap rubbery caps that fit over each lens.

When I got the binoculars, one lens cap had already torn and no longer stayed on the lens. The others were threatening to go at any time.

The binoculars don't need these covers. As long I store the binoculars in their case, it's unlikely anything will damage the lenses--they're solidly built. But as these were something my grandfather passed on to me, I wanted to do my best to keep them in condition.

And so I turned to 3D printing.

Like any hackerspace these days, we have a number of 3D printers. I'm not particularly good at CAD yet, but in OpenSCAD a cap is just one flat cylinder differenced with a smaller cylinder.

Simple as it was, it still took three tries to get right. The first was way too large; the second, though it fit, was tight enough that I worried removing it would break the lenses. The last try was almost perfect. Despite needing three iterations, the whole process took less than an hour.

Here's the final cap, on the camera, ready to go. Score for 3D printing helping maintain old gear.

On the offhand chance you need to print a lens cap for an old set of binoculars, you can find the design file on thingiverse.

Defining success

Launchpad's notorious bug 1 was closed last month. This is long overdue. Not because free software now has majority marketshare, but because the bug has set the wrong tone for Ubuntu and Canonical.

The bug is as follows:

Microsoft has a majority market share

While the description goes on to to talk about the importance of there being more free software in the market, ultimately the bug comes down to beating Microsoft.

I've never liked bug 1. It was meant as a pithy way of setting out a mission statement for Ubuntu and Canonical, but it has served only to define the success of free software in terms of the failure of another agent. It defined free software by what it's against, rather than what it's for.

This limits any real chance of success, and creates a toxic attitude. Rather than striving for excellence in its own right, this sort of attitude requires a project to root for the failure of their rivals. It takes away genuine pride in achievement and in its stead provides only schadenfreude.

Mark Shuttleworth, in closing bug 1, had this to say:

it's better for us to focus our intent on excellence in our own right, rather than our impact on someone else's product. In the (many) years since this bug was filed, we've figured out how to be amazing on the cloud, and I hope soon also how to be amazing for developers on their desktops ... I would rather we find a rallying call that celebrates those insights

Redefining success in terms of the project's own excellence is the only way forward. This isn't just true for Ubuntu and Canonical, or even just for free software. Any project, any endeavor, should be focused on doing its best, and beating its best. There's room enough in domain for many ideas, and they should all hone themselves to the best they can be.

Not the Same

Not the Same

There's a common complaint I've been hearing voiced more and more as we draw closer to the end of this election season:

The two candidates are the same.

I've heard this voiced by socialists who are unhappy that both Obama and Romney have talked about scaling back government spending; ignoring or not caring that the two candidates have very different approaches to that, programs in mind, and outcomes they're shooting for.

The two candidates are the same.

I've heard this said by libertarians angry that neither candidate is going to overturn our banking system. That one candidate wants to roll regulation back even further, making the problem even worse, seems to be unimportant.

The two candidates are the same.

I've heard this from all sorts of people who are angry that war continues under Obama. Who are angry that both candidates seem happy with NDAA and drones and questionably legal practices.

The two candidates are not the same.

The people I have heard make this complaint are wrong.

When one candidate has repealed DADT and the other has shown no interest in gay rights, you cannot tell me they are the same. When one candidate signs the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay act and the other one opposed it, you cannot tell me they are the same. And when one has made gay marriage a part of his party's platform and the other told gay parents he didn't know gay people "had families" you cannot tell me they are the same.

I am tired of this complaint.

They are not the same.

Everything Changes

Hey, the new site setup referenced before is live! Sadly, this does mean
you need to update your bookmarks and/or feeds.

The main page of humanmade is much as it always was. New colors, but that's
about it. It's all running on nanoc now, which is pretty nice. The blog is
accessible from and At some
point the latter will become a redirect to the former, but for now we'll leave
it as is.

The feed is


I still love tumblr, and I'm not leaving it. The tumblr lives on at Random links, videos, images, and so on will continue to be posted there. Additionally, anything posted here will be
crossposted to tumblr via IFTTT. So if you just want to follow tumblr
stuff, that's fine.

The feed there is

Why the change?

Obviously, given everything is still feeding in to tumblr, I have no problem
with it. But increasingly, I do feel the need to own my stuff. Which is to
say, if you're reading this on my site, all of this is mine. The content all
lives on my computer, and in my git repos, and on my server. I don't have to
export it weirdly using a tool that only works on OS X. I don't have to munge
that data to get it back into nice plain markdown. I own this, and I make it
do what I want it to do.


1fp still lives at I think I will probably resume it soon,
in some form.