Three years ago in April of 2018, maker and YouTuber Simone Giertz gave her own Ted Talk. It was titled “Why You Should Make Useless Things”, and it was about Simone’s own journey growing up while struggling with performance anxiety and perfectionism. She eventually found an outlet for those issues (and a career!) through building what she affectionately calls “shitty robots”.(more…)
It’s incredible how far display technology has come. Nowadays LED walls are found at every major concert venue, flat panel televisions are ubiquitous, and everyone has a high resolution, full color LCD display in their pocket. It’s difficult to imagine that just a few short decades ago it was a struggle to create a large, dynamic display for an economical price.(more…)
When the story of Harry Potter first took the world by storm in 1997, readers were enamored by J.K. Rowling’s magical universe and the enchanting places within. The ordinary house at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, where “the boy who lived” grew up with his horrible Aunt and Uncle (and their son, Dudley). The Leaky Cauldron, the grubby little pub that serves as the gateway to the fantastical shops and stalls of Diagon Alley. And, of course, the world’s most famous non-existent train platform: Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.
The fictional platform is located in a real muggle-inhabited location – King’s Cross station in northern London. Wizards and witches running at the wall between platforms 9 and 10 would instantly be transported to the mythical platform, where they would say farewell to their families and depart on the scarlet train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Celebrating this connection to the world of Harry Potter, the employees at King’s Cross erected a real-life “Platform 9 ¾” sign in the terminal, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for fans the world ’round.
My sister is one of these many Harry Potter devotees, so this past Christmas I decided to build her her own replica of this iconic sign.
Aperture Science (a.k.a Aperture Laboratories) is a fictional scientific research corporation, whose facility is the setting for the 2007 puzzle-platform video game Portal, as well as its 2011 sequel Portal 2. Aperture’s approach to scientific research is a little… strange, to put it mildly. They have a penchant for testing exotic materials, building maniacal robots, and creating wholesome musical interludes. And, apparently, coming up with long-winded names for storage containers.
The Aperture Science Handheld Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Unit was a stainless steel water bottle created and sold by Valve Corporation and ThinkGeek for the release of Portal 2, circa 2011. The bottle came in both 40 oz black and 22 oz white variations, with decals for Aperture Laboratories and a disclaimer about the deadly nature of H₂O. Unfortunately it looks like they stopped selling these several years ago – the product page from the Valve store has vanished entirely, while the ThinkGeek product page has both bottles listed as “no longer available”.
I’m not so easily deterred, so I spent this past weekend building my own “Aperture Science Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Unit” using a stainless steel water bottle and some custom made vinyl decals.