Being a Social Hacker

I may spend a lot of my time working on robots, but I like people. I’ve noticed this in my professional life: I’m happier and more productive working on a small team, rather than solo.

My day job has me working alone a lot of the time, so at the beginning of March, I decided to take matters into my own hands and “find the others.” I knew about Noisebridge in San Francisco, but they didn’t quite seem like my people — when I joined their IRC channel they suggested I jump in front of a train, in fact.

So I was delighted to discover a hackerspace right down the street from me: Ace Monster Toys in Oakland.

Making Thingiverse Faster

Thingiverse has deployed my modifications to Thingiviewer, which were first seen on this very site powering the 3D Thing Previews. The internet is now just a little bit better. Woot!

Fixing the Heated Build Platform's Bolts

I love my heated build platform. It’s the best upgrade my MakerBot has seen. No other change has improved my print quality and confidence to this degree.

But if you look at the pictures on that page, you’ll notice my least favorite feature: the bolts, or as I call them, the MakerBot Industries Amazing Nozzle Destroyers. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix.

Implementing the Luhn Algorithm

In my previous professional life, I processed a lot of credit card numbers. When reading credit card numbers from an unknown source, it helps to have a fast way of checking basic validity — to filter out bogus input. Such a method exists: the Luhn algorithm. I developed a very fast implementation of the algorithm a few years ago, and I keep seeing it pop up other places.

Using PLA with the MakerBot Plastruder MK5

Polylactic Acid is a compostable plastic that can be made from renewable resources — usually plants. Compared to ABS plastic, it’s much harder, warps much less, and can be crystal clear. When I first got my hands on some PLA filament in 2009, it had the potential to be my new favorite plastic…but getting it working took time.